Tomb raid unearths antique amulets

More than a dozen antique amulets have been found near the excavation site of what is believed to be the tomb of an Ayutthaya king in Myanmar.

Mickey Heart, president of the Myanmar-Thai Yethaphanpwint Association, which represents archaeologists and architects, said the 14 amulets display a combination of Ayutthaya and Myanmar-style art.

A final decision on the exact genre of the amulets is yet to be made, but they are being referred to as "Ayutthaya-Amornpura style".

The amulets, which measure about four centimetres by six centimetres, were discovered in March as workers cleaned the ruins of a stupa adjacent to the excavation site. The amulets are made of clay mixed with various dried plants and encased in silver.

Pongkwan Lassus, deputy director for information at the Yethaphanpwint Association and a senior member of the Association of Siamese Architects, said the amulets look similar to others displayed in the museum of Wat Prayurawongsawas in Thon Buri, Bangkok.

Asst Prof Jeerawan Sangpetch, of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, said more studies are needed to verify the style of the amulets.

She said the Yethaphanpwint Association's hasty excavation work appeared not to properly follow archaeological guidelines and that may lead to questions about the project itself.

Last year, the Yethaphanpwint Association gained permission from Mandalay authorities to excavate the Linzingon cemetery to search for the remains of King Uthumporn, who was taken to Myanmar together with thousands of Ayutthaya people after the fall of the old Siamese capital in 1767.

The king was resettled in Mandalay until his last days. The old cemetery is surrounded by the so-called Iudea (Ayutthaya) communities.

At the beginning of their work last year, the experts found a lotus-shaped container filled with human relics at one of the stupas on the cemetery. The association plans to develop the area, covering 2.5 rai, as a memorial to the Ayutthaya king.

However, the work has been suspended by the Myanmar government, which wanted to upgrade the project to national level, with cooperation with the Thai Fine Arts Department.

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